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help! we have been mis lead by solicitors

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  • help! we have been mis lead by solicitors

    Hi there,

    Can't believe I am writing this but we have just bought a house and only now just found out that the two storey extension the house has no planning permission or building regs or completion certificate. The solicitors completely missed it and claim they didnt even know about it! (They are lying as they have been informed by several parties including the mortgage lender that there was an extension.) We also have a toilet that is possibly plumbed in to a surface water pipe instead of foul which we could be fined for apparently.

    When probed they came back and said there was planning application for the garage to be converted (was two bedroom terrace with garage, now 4 bedroom house) but it was rejected! They also advised the seller to take out an indemnity policy for the cost of the entire house, when they told us it was only for the windows as there was no fensa certificate for them.

    We would never have bought the house knowning there was no planning permission, we really dont know where we stand now - does anyone think we have grounds to take action against them given that we were sold a house not knowing that the extension was illegally built? This will also affect my business as a childminder and potentially we might lose the extension completely as we are not sure the garage foundations are enough support and unlikely to gain retrospective planning permission.

  • #2
    Re: help! we have been mis lead by solicitors

    You might have grounds, but it all depends on the detail of who said/wrote what and when. You will need to take advice from a solicitor specialised in professional negligence.
    RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
    As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: help! we have been mis lead by solicitors

      Thank you for your comment, we have just found out the indemnity insurance policy cert we have is not real as they never paid for the insurance so we have no back up plan - on top oif that the extension has subsidence.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: help! we have been mis lead by solicitors

        The indemnity insurance would not have helped you in relation to the discovery of subsidence. These indemnities for planning and building regulations only pay out if enforcement action is taken by the Council - not if there is some structural failure etc. This should have been explained to you.
        RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
        As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: help! we have been mis lead by solicitors

          No, unfortunately it was not explained to us, we did not even know it had been taken out in the first place. Am I correct in thinking if the extension has to be pulled down (if the policy still stood) that we would not have been able to claim for building works anyway? The extension is over 20 years old so I am not sure why it was taken out in the first place as I was led to believe the council couldn't take any action against buildings that were over a certain time period.

          We wouldn't have bought the property had we been made aware of all the issues, do we possibly have a claim against the solicitors to pay for the work that needs doing?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: help! we have been mis lead by solicitors

            Am I correct in thinking if the extension has to be pulled down (if the policy still stood) that we would not have been able to claim for building works anyway?
            If Council were to require it to be pulled down because it didn't comply then an indemnity policy would cover you - but frankly after 20 years they cannot do that under Planning law and under Building Regulations they would extremely look silly if they did.

            If it has to be pulled down because it is unsafe etc then you can't claim on such a policy if you had one.

            as we are not sure the garage foundations are enough support and unlikely to gain retrospective planning permission.
            If it has been there 20 yaers it would be lawful under Planning Law so doesn't need retrospective Planning Permission, but you might need a regularisation certificate under the Building Regulations.

            You may have a claim against the solicitors but it does depend upon how much they knew about the building. Do not rely on phone calls but look for the paper trail that shows that they knew there was an extension and they didn't check whether the right permissions and certificates had been obtained, or they checked but didn't explain the implications to you.

            In a situation like this if the permission had not been produced I would explain the implications to the client and if their lender was not concerned, they would have decide whether or not to accept the position or require further investigation, e.g. by having a surveyor look more critically at the work.
            RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
            As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: help! we have been mis lead by solicitors

              Thank you for your reply, we know that the solicitor knew about the extension as the mortgage report that was sent to her specifically noted that lending was fine depending on whether all planning permissions etc had been checked out by the solicitor. Our home buyers survey also noted the extension needed to be checked out as well as the estate agents who noted there was an extension. The solicitor also sold the property to the previous sellers 10 years ago and was their solicitor for bankrupty etc (we have documents to prove this) so she would definately have known - its just proving it!

              We now have no indemnity policy as it was never paid for so we effectively have a useless scrap of paper that used to be a policy. We have been told without this our buildings insurance is invalid and we would not be able to make a claim should we need to.

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              • #8
                Re: help! we have been mis lead by solicitors

                We have been told without this our buildings insurance is invalid and we would not be able to make a claim should we need to.
                This sounds rather OTT to me.

                Buildings insurers don't pay out if Council makes you demolish something or put it right - only if it falls down or there is a fire or some other insured risk occurs.

                Council taking enforcement action under the Building Regulations isn't an insured risk so how does an indemnity policy help a buildings insurer?

                Did you know about the problem when you took out the buildings policy? If not I would plead ignorance if you had to make a claim.
                RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
                As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.

                Comment

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